3D Great Rock Bible
Nightwish iTunes Tracks Nightwish Official Website

Nightwish

When one thinks of how many hard-rock acts from Finland have been exported over the years, and how sparingly we the public have treated them, well… there must be some reason for this apparent alienation. With the exception of H.I.M., HANOI ROCKS, The RASMUS, CHILDREN OF BODOM, EuroVision winners LORDI (cough!), and now symphonic metal combo NIGHTWISH, maybe someone else has the answer. In sound and vision, NW were frequently compared to Italy’s goth-metallers LACUNA COIL, although this was probably due to both bands fronting female vocalists (the Finnrockers have had three in their lifetime!) and them sharing a gothic obsession with fantasy literature and other such subject-matter.
Formed in Kitee (a town known for its moonshine rather than its rock’n’roll!), NIGHTWISH surfaced in 1996 through songwriter/keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen (ex-Nattvindens Grat), guitarist Erno “Emppu” Vuorinen and classical singer Tarja Turunen. In the beginning it was Holopainen’s wish to create acoustic music in a gothic style, but after recording a few tracks the trio decided to electrify their sound; Vuorinen switching from acoustic to electric guitar as the band filled out with sticksman Jukka Nevalainen.
NIGHTWISH subsequently recorded a handful of tracks for a demo which attracted the Spinefarm independent, who gave the Finns a two-album deal, kicking off with their debut album, ANGELS FALL FIRST (1997) {*5}, a record that sadly incorporated some of the songs from the said starter set. Of the tracks that part-vocalist Holopainen didn’t mangle into the ground (among them `Beauty And The Beast’ and the folky `The Carpenter’), the potential of the band was solidified in their grandiose musicianship and Tarja’s operatic larynx on the title track.
The band were then forced to take a year-long sojourn as all had either academic and military duties to conclude. After wrapping up these extracurricular activities, NIGHTWISH re-appeared together (with the addition of bassist Sami Vanska) in order to record, and almost immediately release, their sophomore set OCEANBORN (1998) {*8}. The album sold well enough to hit the Top 5 in their homeland, as a result roping many more admirers from around the rest of Europe. Bridging the gap between symphonic metal and classic(al) rock opera (banshee Tarja the main attraction), NIGHTWISH had one up over their rivals, maybe two or three by way of `Pharaoh Sails To Orion’, `Passion And The Opera’, `Sacrement Of Wilderness’ and the eerie `Devil And The Deep Dark Ocean’.
After a European tour at the turn of the millennium, the quintet returned to the studio to work on their third album, WISHMASTER (2000) {*6}, releasing it within the year. A stand-out track on the Finnish chart-topper, in terms of subject matter was `The Kinslayer’, a track that dealt with Holopainen’s despair on the tragic events of April 20, 1999 that befell the victims of Colorado’s Columbine High School. Among the slower tracks, `Two For Tragedy’ and the excellent `Dead Boy’s Poem’, Tuomas’s predilection with Lord Of The Rings and Dragonlance was apparent on the title track, while `Deep Silent Complete’ soared into the Finnish Top 3.
On the back of an EP that was spear-headed by a re-vamp of GARY MOORE’s `Over The Hills And Far Away’, NIGHTWISH were back on familiar chart-scaling terra firma for album four, CENTURY CHILD (2002) {*8}. As if to rub dog-dirt on the mask of author Andrew Lloyd Webber, the group’s version of `Phantom Of The Opera’ exceeded all expectations – even worries – but it was in the strength of other homeland hits `Bless The Child’, `Ever Dream’ and `Dead To The World’ (a duet with fresh bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala, from Tarot) that set apart the band from mere mortals.
Inevitably, NIGHTWISH were prised from the wings of Spinefarm and into the arms of Nuclear Blast Records (in Europe outside of Finland) and Roadrunner (for North America and Australia). Garnering rave reviews from Metal Hammer and Kerrang, 2004’s ONCE {*8} was another mighty album, becoming in the process a costly venture that ran up a bill of over £¼ million. Number one or Top 10 in most European countries (only in Britain they found it hard to conquer), single fodder such as `Nemo’, `Wish I Had An Angel’ (a UK minor hit) and `The Siren’, were no match for `Dark Chest Of Wonders’, `Planet Hell’ and `Creek Mary’s Blood’.
Just as things looked decidedly bright and buoyant for NIGHTWISH, the four musicians decided that Tarja was surplus to requirements. The morning after a concert in Helsinki on 21st October 2005 (recorded live for the END OF AN ERA {*6} CD or DVD delivered the following year), spokesman Holopainen posted her dismissal on their website, citing her alliance with husband businessman Marcelo Cabuli. Needless to say, she felt their actions “senselessly cruel” and said as much on national TV, radio and tabloid interviews.
Unperturbed it seemed, her position was up for grabs through subsequent auditions, the winning candidate being Swedish-born Anette Olzon (from the band Alyson Avenue). Silent for months, NIGHTWISH re-emerged from the shadows in May 2007 with `Eva’, a digital-only single from the band’s sixth album, their first to break into the UK Top 30, DARK PASSION PLAY {*6}. Not as operatic as its predecessors, but certainly orchestral (fitting in over 60 Philharmonic alumni and a host of operatic/gospel voices), the set swung into action with the 14-minute/5-piece suite `The Poet And The Pendulum’. This could well’ve broken the band financially, but with a sense of DREAM THEATER nuance and single trump cards `Bye Bye Beautiful’ and `Amaranth’, they needn’t have worried; incidentally, one of the guest musicians (on uilleann pipes, bodhran, etc.) was future member Troy Donockley (ex-IONA). To mark time and empty pockets, the in-concert MADE IN HONG KONG (AND IN VARIOUS OTHER PLACES) (2009) {*6} was basically was it said on the tin.
Far exceeding anything NIGHTWISH could foresee over a decade ago, Tuomas conceived the idea of matching a bona fide Stobe Harju-directed film with a soundtrack/score album (but not simultaneously, or in tandem); one thinks of only PRINCE that had matched this unique exploit. Inspired by Tim Burton (the modern-day Salvador Dali), the gothic fantasy about an ageing composer on his death-bed, IMAGINAERUM (2011) {*7} was no DANNY ELFMAN excursion, rather a passion-driven schizoid concept fantasy `Storytime’ (incidentally, the title of track two). Exploding into gear via fast and furious riffs (think GUNS N’ ROSES for `Ghost River’ or a metallic “Riverdance” for `I Want My Tears Back’), NIGHTWISH had put all their coins into one fountain and come up trumps. Remixed by Petri Alanko (track listings different), the official soundtrack of IMAGINAREUM: THE SCORE {*6} was unveiled in November 2012 to coincide with the movie’s release.
Whether it be the pressures of such an undertaking, Anette fell ill on a promotional tour in Denver (September 28, 2012), and it looked all doom and gloom for a band once again at the peak of prosperity. At short notice, KAMELOT (their support act), namely backing singers Elize Ryd and Alissa White-Gluz stepped into the fray, but it was curtains for Olzon, who was let go soon afterwards.
Fast-forward a year or so (with After Forever’s Floor Jansen plucked from relative obscurity), the live double-CD or DVD SHOWTIME, STORYTIME (2013) {*7} encompassed all the greatest bits under one roof.
Troy now filling the berth of insomniac Jukka (the drum parts played by Wintersun’s Kai Hahto), the build-up to the sextet’s eighth studio album was intense but exciting. Inspired by naturalist Charles Darwin and his “The Origin Of Species” book, the symphonic rise of the mighty NIGHTWISH grew with ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL (2015) {*7}. Needless to say it achieved platinum, chart-topping status in Finland, while orchestral metal manoeuvres in the dark, such as `Shudder Before The Beautiful’, `The Eyes Of Sharbat Gula’ and the Celtic-addled `Elan’, found a place in the UK Top 10 and American Top 40.
© MC Strong 2001/GMDII // rev-up MCS Apr2015

Share this Project

Leave a Comment